Travel team bowling is not dead in Buffalo.
It doesn't command the attention it did back in another era when such teams as the Simons, M&T and Iroquois and individuals named Harnisch, Schroeder, Mazur, LaCrego, and Madonia in the Courier-Express League made headlines, but it's still there.
Among those carrying on is the EmbroidMe Travel A league, made up of 12 five-bowler teams representing 11 houses. Bowling is generally on Saturdays with an occasional Sunday date thrown in. This week the "A" travels to Rapids Lanes in Niagara Falls, then to Town Edge on Sunday. The two weekend double-dips on the schedule make up for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, which fall on Saturdays this year.
"Our league has some of the best area bowlers in a truly competitive league, where every one is within a couple of pins of each other," says Charlie Zmozynski, one of the league's new slate of officers who have made some significant changes, the chief ones being the addition of a Baker game for each match and a stepped-up fine schedule for unsportsmanlike behavior and other infractions.
Another change that has worked is the institution of a floating sub list. The league has an entering average cap of 1,045, 209 per bowler.
"I have seen it grown from a handicap fun league with many older gentlemen to a very competitive scratch league," says Dave Sears, currently the owner of Recckio's Bowling Center and one of seven original bowlers still active in the league.
Other charter members still at it are: Rich Blonski, Dennis Spyra, Roy Redlein, Paul Zagorski and the Bentley brothers, Scott and Chuck.
Over the years the league has operated under different sponsor names but generally has been known as the BPA Traveling A, although the establishments don't control the teams as they once did.
The league's new slate of officers -- president Peter Zmozynski, vice president Spyra, secretary treasurers Charlie Zmozynski and Redlein pushed for the addition of the Baker game to promote more team, rather than individual goals. The Baker game (each of the five on the team bowls two frames of the 10-frame team game) is worth five points in each 40-point match.
The Baker game, approved by league captains, has proved to be a success, according to Charlie Zmozynski.
"It's turned out to be the difference between winning and losing in some matches or it could turn a rout into a more even match," he said.
Kenmore Lanes is the current league leader with 180 points. Other teams in the top five are: Island II (178 1/2 ), Tonawanda (172 1/2 ), Broadway 158 and Island I (146). Danny Tronalone (Alden) is the current average leader with 230.67 followed Dan Stachowiak of Town Edge at 230.22. Jeff Stanton has recorded the league's only 300 in the first seven weeks of bowling.
The points percentage leader is Greg Jacobs at 75 percent. Beside that, Jacobs is one of the league's most popular and respected bowlers.
There are five women who are regular bowlers -- Beth Karolewski, Lisa Bugenhagen, Tori Stobnicki, Julie Selk and Jocelyn Stutz.
Of course, over the years many friendships have been made, and there are many stories to be told.
Blonski recalls the day the league was bowling at Island Lanes a few years ago.
"One guy was so upset with himself after he did not bowl well that he slammed his ball on the floor as he was sitting down," Blonski said. "The ball bounced up and smacked him in the mouth and knocked three teeth out. Not so funny then as it is now looking back on it."
The new increased fine system in place now is designed to discourage such outbursts.
"It's more of a family atmosphere now," Charlie Zmozynski said. "People are controlling themselves and acting like bowlers who respect the sport."
*The Greater Buffalo USBC Association Fall Youth Doubles Tournament is going on today and Sunday at SpareTime.
*Team USA won the Weber Cup last weekend with Chris Barnes defeating Osku Palermaa, 247-237, to give the Americans a 17-15 win over Europe.
*The GBUSBC Senior Women's Singles Tournament is Nov. 5-6 at AMF Lancaster Lanes.
*The 44th annual GBUSBC Family Tournament Nov. 20-27 at Broadway Sports Center. Competition will be in father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter and nonparent-youth divisions. Prepaid entries and reservations will close Nov. 11, but walk-ins and re-entries are allowed.
*The third annual PBA World Series of Bowling will be conducted Nov. 4-10 at South Point Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center in Las Vegas. The WSOB will include: the Viper Open, Chameleon Open, Scorpion Open and Shark Open; PBA World Championship; Carmen Salvino Classic, PBA Exempt Players Championship, Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship and other special events. Brad Angelo, Ryan Ciminelli, Liz Johnson, Jack Jurek and John Szczerbinski are the local bowlers entered.